Integreon’s global head of contracts Mark Ross looks back with Legal IT Insider at ten years of working with Microsoft.
Integreon marked the tenth anniversary of its partnership with Microsoft last week. Over the past decade, the alternative business services provider has grown its Microsoft operation from a single US-based specialist team to the provision of managed legal services across five delivery centres, three continents, and 14 languages.
“Back in 2008, Microsoft was experiencing an explosion in the volume of both routine and more complex procurement contract requests,” Mark Ross, executive vice president and global head of contracts, compliance and commercial services at Integreon told Legal IT Insider.
“Even though they had taken certain steps to drive efficiencies, the turnaround of these contracts was still longer than ideal. And so, in 2009 they issued an RFP with a select group of alternative business services providers, which we were lucky enough to win. We were initially engaged with a small dedicated team of seven lawyers in Fargo, North Dakota, dealing with less than 10,000 English language procurement contracts per annum. That was the springboard for the exponential expansion that has taken place over the past ten years.”
In 2010, for example, Integreon took over Microsoft’s internal help-desk services, as well as gradually expanding both its geographic coverage and languages supported to create a one-stop-shop for contracting. From 2013 to 2014, Microsoft enlisted Integreon to help them select and install a new CLM system, and then extended the partnership to include ongoing administration and intake support for the new platform. Then, Microsoft engaged Integreon to provide contract review, data extraction and migration of about 22,000 agreements to the new system.
In 2014 and 2017 respectively, Integreon opened offices in Mumbai to support Microsoft contract administration services, and Manila to support the APAC region.
More recently, in 2018, Integreon scaled up substantially to shoulder an increased volume of Microsoft’s contract reviews to ensure compliance with GDPR. Today, Integreon employs nearly 80 dedicated Microsoft associates who review up to 24,000 contracts annually. The company manages up to 90,000 contract entities in Microsoft’s CLM platform annually and completes up to 14,000 contract help desk resolutions per year.
The relationship between Integreon and Microsoft continues to be one based on innovation, according to Ross. “In addition to the expansion in breadth and scale of services, we are working with a partner that has created a psychologically safe environment,” he said. “It is about as far away from a traditional outsourcing customer/supplier relationship as you can get. Yes, Microsoft has incredibly high standards and requires continuous innovation and continuous ROI. But while we would be in trouble if we didn’t try to innovate, we are never in trouble if we fail while trying.”
Among innovation plans currently in play is a system for determining an accurate cost per contract across the entire contract lifecycle from initiation to storage. Integreon is also working with Microsoft to improve an AI tool called LexiBot. The idea is that LexiBot will be the first port of call for business owners for frequently asked questions.
“Integreon is currently responding to around 100,000 administrative questions per annum. We firmly believe that a significant proportion of those requests can ultimately be answered by LexiBot,” said Ross. “Where do I find this contract? How can I update contract records? Who is the appropriate authorised signatory? We are working to train this AI system to respond to these questions. The goal is to drive a three percent increase in its capabilities every quarter.”
Integreon is also working with Kira to support contract analysis, comparing negotiated provisions against Microsoft standards. In addition, it has installed bots on the laptops of a number of associates to help determine what components of process could be automated and ultimately delivered more efficiently.
“If I look back over the past ten years, the relationship has primarily been characterised by an increase in the breadth and scale of the services we deliver,” Ross said. “More recently, and if I look ahead to the next ten years, I think the relationship will be characterised by innovation and the ability to use technology to deliver those in-scope services more efficiently.
By Amy Carroll